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2 June 2015
Natural England and Defra revise requirements for farmers' record keeping.
In a presentation, which signalled the postponement of a controversial new plan to impose a significant change to record-keeping requirements on producers with an environmental stewardship agreement, Defra and Natural England have apologised for the handling of the situation, which has sparked widespread anger within the farming community.
11,000 pre-2013 agreement holders received notification in early April from Natural England that they must begin to keep more detailed livestock records if using grazing or livestock management options.
The letters arrived in the middle of lambing, demanding that farmers using ‘livestock options’ had to keep stocking records at a land parcel level from the 1st June or risk facing EU fines. Farmers’ protests stated the dreadful timing, lack of practical details and absence of information on what is actually required as reasons for their objections to the reform.
Defra and Natural England have since backed down. Letters have started to be received by farmers, in which they state, “Natural England and Defra have listened carefully to farmers’ concerns and discussed them with farming industry representatives; as a result Defra has agreed to postpone introducing this new requirement until further notice.” The letter continues that the original communication “did not explain clearly enough why the new requirement was being introduced and what you would have to do to meet it.”
By way of apology, the letter continues; “Natural England and Defra would like to apologise for any inconvenience that this episode may have caused you.”
A spokesperson for the NFU, Robin Milton, has stated that the decision is a ‘victory for common sense.’
It is acknowledged that farmers will be required to keep further records, but that the process needs to be properly managed in consultation with the industry. Natural England agreed that the organisation does need to work with the industry to find a solution to empower farmers to find a way forward in a practical and manageable way.
If you require any further information or support, please contact Henry Spencer at the King West Market Harborough office on 01858 435 970.